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Exercise Helps with Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy

Increased physical activity boosts women's psychological strength to give up cigarettes

MONDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- A physical activity intervention to help pregnant women stop smoking appears to be feasible and beneficial, according to study results published in the Sept. 23 issue of BMC Public Health.

Michael Ussher, M.D., of St. George's University of London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues monitored 32 pregnant smokers in an intervention involving individual treatment sessions combining smoking cessation support, physical activity counseling and supervised exercise (e.g. treadmill walking) up to eight months of gestation. The researchers report on two studies: the first study involved six weekly treatment sessions, and the second study involved 15 sessions over an eight-week period.

The investigators found continuous smoking abstinence in one-quarter (eight of 32) of all the women after eight months' gestation. The abstinent women attended at least 85 percent of the treatment sessions, and 75 percent of them achieved the target level of 110 minutes/week of physical activity by the end of treatment. Increased physical activity helped women reduce cigarette cravings as well as increase psychological strength to quit smoking, the researchers note. Women reported other benefits including weight management and mood enhancement, the report indicates.

"If the intervention were shown to be successful for pregnant smokers, it would provide a blueprint for designing physical activity interventions for other populations of smokers," the authors conclude.

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